Berlin Marathon Training Diary – 56 days to go

The Berlin marathon is in 56 days or…

• 4,838,400 seconds

• 80,640 minutes

• 1344 hours

• 8 weeks

• 15.34% of 2019

• I ran 71.54 miles this week

This is a summary of my fourth weeks training, as I work towards the Berlin Marathon targeting a sub 3 hour marathon. This summary just focuses on my two workouts this week.

Workout sessions:

Below is the workout rational from Coach John and my feedback post run.

John trains beginners through to elites who compete in all distances from 1500m to marathons to 24-hour ultras. Click on this link to view his website.


• Warm up

• 8x7min at 6′25/3 min/mile & off at 7’30 min/mile

• Cool down 

Coach John: Increased the rep time from two weeks ago: 5min to 7min; pace is 6’24 min/mile (104% of target marathon pace). Structured recovery of 3min at 7’30 min/mile 85% of target marathon pace (MP). We’re extending the specific speed.

Marcus: This workout I didn’t hit my paces, midway my pace dropped off. What happened? An early morning workout run before work, on an empty stomach is only going to end one way.

In hindsight I should of prepared my nutrition pre run. Post run I spoke to John, and we will look at tweaking the midweek workout next week, to help me reach my best.

One of the takeaways from the conversation is if your workout is gone way off pace, just stop it as there’s no benefit being a hero, suffering to the end as it can sabotage future workouts. Even the pros like Allie Kieffer do this.


• 22 miles at 7’30min/mile structural run: 85% of MP).

Coach John: Structural run to strengthen endurance spine. Pace is 7’20min/avg, 40sec slower than target MP, from two weeks back. We’ve increased the distance by two miles and increased the pace by 10 sec per mile.

Both of the above sessions show how we’re extending the pace of the specific speed and how we’re extending the distance of the structural runs while nudging the pace closer towards MP. This works, synergistically, with the shorter Marathon tempo runs which we’re also extending. The endurance spine cements everything.

Marcus: In the back of my mind was forgetting about my last two workouts and starting afresh.

I made sure I had my regular breakfast including bagel and this was a straightforward run, my plan was to hold back in the first few miles as they always lie, and keep it steady at 7:30 pace. This felt easy upto mile 18, then the inevitable moment arrived, fatigue and doubts from Wednesday’s workout crept in my mind.

I’ve been working on some mindset strategies with Duncan, in how to deal with winning the ugly moments. I repeated the actions out loud, I used other runners down the road to pull my pace up, as the steady pace became tougher to hold. This helped as I finished dead on the pace my coach set at 7:30min/mile avg.

Mindset training: I’m working with Duncan a sports performance mindset coach. He specialises in leading athletes to greater, more consistent performances through the power of their performance mindset. He works on a consultancy basis with individual athletes and teams. Click on this link to view his website.

Duncan: Retain your perspective

I’ve spoken with a handful of runners preparing for different events in the last two weeks, and in nearly every conversation we’ve spoken about the importance of retaining perspective.

*This tip today is for the athletes that have the odd occasion where they don’t hit their target pace – if this is a consistent issue then you may want to restructure your training or look at your lifestyle inputs surrounding your performance and recovery*

When training for an event, you train to peak AT the event. If you are hitting every single pace target in all of your workouts the question to ask is “am I being challenged enough?”

If you have the days where you are unable to hit your targets, feel that emotion and feel the disappointment – and store it to ignite your next workout/ to draw from come race day. Then in the next 36 hours reflect on why you were unable to keep pace – maybe you will find an answer and therefore a solution, but sometimes there won’t be other than the fact that the workouts are stretching you to peak for your event.

By working with a professional you can most definitely build mental skills that can:

• that can help you work through the low during the workout

• that can help you gain perspective and move through it post-run ready for your next workout

• add a protective layer to reduce the number of disappointing moments

On the flip side of this, celebrate the days when you do hit your target. Celebrate the days when you’re in a great flow and training is a breeze, celebrate the days when you are most certainly not in a good flow and you have to slog it out. Celebrate completing a workout where you didn’t hit your targets. It’s all money in the bank come race day, both physically and mentally.

Keep pushing forwards, and find ways to reflect whether through journaling, conversations with your trusted circle (family, training peers, coach etc.) or through taking that step back to retain your perspective of your journey to the race.

Marcus: It was really helpful in being able to talk through the workouts that didn’t go to plan, and set some strategies in place about how I could make the best next steps to refocus in the hard moments. Duncan and I will cover these strategies in more detail post Berlin.

Nutrition: For Sunday’s run I took one one Maurten 100 gel every 20 minutes, with a breakfast beforehand. For Wednesday’s run I took nothing pre run and paid the price for the workout.

I’ve been taking Xendurance Lactic tabs for a number of weeks and they really have helped with recovery. Even after my workout sessions in the afternoon I started to feel more normal. Rather than the aching and creaking I’ve been accustomed to.

Thanks for reading! Next weeks training summary will be published next Sunday.


  1. I use Maurten gels too. I was drawn by their natural ingredients and cannot fault them.
    Best of luck with the Berlin marathon. I am doing one in Longford, Ireland at the end of the month and also hope to go sub 3 for the first time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have a great training block, and I hope you get sub 3 in Longford. Thanks for the best wishes & good to hear that Maurten works for you also.

      Liked by 1 person

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